What Words Can’t Say

 

Images have power.

Some say the holocaust never happened.

But, we’ve seen the images.

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Some say, “Separate is Equal.”

But, we’ve seen the images.

 

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Some say, most refugees are terrorists.

But then we’ve seen the images.

 

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Some say there’s no injustice in America.

But, we’ve seen the images.

 

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Some say there’s no God, no hope, no love, nothing we can do to bring change.

But, I’ve seen the images.

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When I look into my brother and sisters eyes, the eyes of my children and foster daughter,

The eyes of my neighbor, no matter the color, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or social status…

I see images.

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The images of God.

And images have power.

Power to pray. Power to protest. Power to preach. Power to love. Power to plead.

I admit it’s a hard time to navigate. Liking a Facebook post won’t bring change. I am inadequate to speak any authority over the situation because I have SO very much to learn. But as I cried for my foster daughter’s future, her precious mama and father, I prayed God would show me what to do. Here’s what he pressed on my heart-

We have a God-given, Spirit-led power to raise an anti-racist generation.

Have the hard talk and holy talk in your home tonight, with your friends, your husband, your children.

Not just once. But over and over.

We are living, breathing images. Let’s bring change.

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“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV

 “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28-29 MSG

Three Things to Do When You Can’t Plan the Future

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Knowing you may not hold someone you love for much longer leaves the days feeling fresh and fragile. I remember sitting next to my Poppa when he was passing away. I listened carefully for the next breath, knowing any moment the next breath wouldn’t come. I wanted to be with him, inhale deeply next to him, sing to him, pray with him, hold his hand while it was still warm.

I find myself watching our foster daughter with similar thoughts breaking ashore–just allow one more day with her; Father God, give me more than one more breath.

With our baby girl, I can only plan for her needs six months at a time…because that’s how long it is between court dates and decisions. I turned down bigger sized clothing, walkers, and high chairs when she was first placed with us. Now, I’m turning down toddler beds and trikes. I don’t plan for her life past April, our next court date. I find myself thinking, “this may be the last time we (fill in the blank) with this sweet girl.”

I’m waking up. I want to be as diligent and intentional to soak in every life around me, not just my foster daughter’s. We’re not guaranteed one more breath with anyone. Many of us know this truth well. Life can change in a flutter.

This journey has taught me to stand in awe, awakening to each day as one more gift from God. The sunrises are stunning, snoring husbands are cute instead of irritating, stinky soccer socks cause me to pause and give thanks for healthy children, and every baby milestone feels magical. Seriously. Baby girl shoving puffs into her mouth (and all over the floor) makes everyone in this house party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine. It’s so stinkin’ cute.

We’re trying to dig into every day over here. And although we cannot plan out the future, God is teaching me three things we can do: Pray, Prepare & Play.

  1. Pray for God’s purposes.

Instead of trying to force the future into the box I’ve delegated for it—I can lay that all down and pray, “Lord, I ask that your perfect purposes for the future be accomplished in my life and the lives of my loved ones. Let nothing stand in your way.”

  1. Prepare your heart.

God’s plan may not line up with my limited ideas of perfection. We can remember God’s good and always trustworthy. This helps us prepare our hearts to accept whatever the future holds. Since we’ve become a foster family, I often pray, “Lord, please prepare my heart (and the hearts of my children) for whatever lies ahead. Give us peace.”

3. Play with the people you love.

Grab the people you love and take pleasure in them. We may not have tomorrow, but we have today! I’m not sure why we don’t memorize this scripture in Sunday school, but maybe we should make it a thing (especially the part about bread and wine),

“Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,,”  (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 MSG)

Dear Lord,

      I don’t know the future of my children and loved ones, but I pray for it. I ask that you go ahead of them, paving the way for peace and provision. I pray you are parting seas they don’t see. I pray you are planting people of godly influence in their path before they get there. I pray for wisdom when they are pressed against the hard rock of life. I pray for forgiving friends who point them to your love. I pray for protection over their hearts and bodies. I pray faith rises fiercely in their soul when doubt pushes down. I pray for eyes to see your blessings when they feel cheated. I pray they run to you, instead of away, when their hearts are broken. I pray they love bravely because that’s why you made them. I pray your voice reaches them when mine cannot and whispers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I pray they know love because they know you. Amen

It means so much that you’re taking this journey with me.❤ I’d love to send you a FREE SEVEN-DAY DEVOTIONAL: CLICK HERE FOR DEVOTIONAL

Seeking Answers or Abba?

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The phone rings. It’s just the eye doctor. I send the call to voicemail and surrender to tears.

Please, Father. Give me answers.

It’s court day. I’m waiting to hear if our foster daughter will stay with us for six more months, or if she’ll go back to her biological mother.

I slide my phone over so not to sob over the screen.

I text a veteran foster mamma, hoping she can predict the outcome. She’s can’t say for sure. I text another foster mama. Goodness, how about I just throw the question out to my Facebook foster group?

Someone. Must. Know.

God, please. You know. Let me know, too.

And just like that, I was a modern-day Evedesiring answers more than I desired Abba, my Father in heaven.

Eve had the honor of walking in the cool of the evening with her Father God. She had unimaginable intimacy with the craftsman of her soul. Yet when she was offered the chance to know more—more than the presence of God—she bit.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6 NIV, emphasis added).

Eve traded intimacy for information. Soon after, Eve and her husband “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 NASB).

I do the same thing. Most the time, my appetite to know what God has planned overtakes my desire to walk with Him. When He doesn’t share His plan with me, I run from Him. Sometimes I flee in anger, sometimes in shame, sometimes dragging grief, but always looking for someone else to tell me what the Lord won’t.

The trouble is, the moment we pull ourselves from the presence of the Lord, anxiety rises. We do crazy things (like sew dresses out of fig leaves), and our joy deflates. Because only in the presence of the Lord is the fullness of joy. Only by spending time with Him will He make known the path of life (Psalm 16:11). And, yes, waiting for answers is exhausting, but “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB).

I turned my phone on silent, closed my eyes, and prayed, “Father, help me to pursue your presence over understanding your purposes. I want you, Abba, more than I want answers.”

I know now that answers, knowledge, even wisdom, do not give peace.

Peace is not a revelation; peace is a person. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

 

It means so much that you’re taking this journey with me.❤ I’d love to send you a FREE SEVEN-DAY DEVOTIONAL: CLICK HERE FOR DEVOTIONAL

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

Hitting Rock Bottom

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I turned to Aaron last night and said, “If she goes home in April, I don’t think I’ll survive it, baby.”

Taking my hand, he said, “We’ll get through it.”

The depths of human emotion are astounding. As soon as you reach the bottom of the well, your soul strikes a geyser, emotions rush to the surface, shattering the limitations of how you thought you could ever feel, or give.

The number one comment I’ve received after becoming a foster mom is, “I could never do that. I could never love a child and then give them back. It would be too hard.”

I know some of you’ve said those very words to me. You know the first person to say this to me?

Me.

About a gazillion times before you opened your mouth, so don’t sweat it. I’m pretty sure my head will pop off like a Barbie doll when/if she isn’t with us anymore. So…there’s that.

I try not to think of that.

Oh, yes, sweet friends. You’re right, it’s hard.

Loving a child like they’re yours, but they aren’t is like trying to settle untamed land. I’m unsure which attachments to let grow wild and where it’d be wise to put up some fences.

Is she supposed to call me, mommy? I’m not her mommy.

What do I say when someone says, “Congratulations”? She’s not adopted. In fact, she’s with us because of traumatic circumstances.

Knowing we’ll probably only have her for a season; the knowledge breaks and heals, gives and takes away. I don’t know how to feel, so I feel everything. It’s fascinating and difficult. Please, pray for me.

Some days lunge at me like a ginormous octopus. Emotional tentacles are yanking my gut, trying to reach a new understanding of what God’s love is really about. How can it spread in so many directions at the same time, with the same purpose? Is it even possible for me to love like him?

I promise I’m trying. I’m finding I don’t know how to successfully love my foster daughter, her birth mama, her birth daddy, her paternal grandma, the two social workers, three investigators, three lawyers, and the judge equally.

I’m failing.

Somewhere down the line, I’ve come to believe that if I love one too much, it will interfere with my love for the other. What if I love too hard, will the wells eventually dry up?  I don’t want to find myself cracked and parched, unable to love brave again.

The word tells us, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only son,”(John 3:16)

In other words:

He loved, so he did a very hard thing;

He loved, so he gave what was most precious to him;

He loved, so he endured.

He loved, so he hung, his lips cracked, his mouth parched.

The veil was torn. His body was buried. But it wasn’t the bottom of the well.

When the world thought Jesus hit rock bottom, a bigger rock rolled away, and the fierce love of God rose up.

I’m learning we can’t put boundaries and borders upon God’s love. We’re the ones slapping labels on His callings: Too Hard. Not Worth It. I. Just. Can’t.

Of course, we can’t! Love wouldn’t be holy if we could accomplish it on our own. Only through Jesus, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

After our last failed adoption, I was convinced a piece of me would never feel again. I was wrong. The death in that experience gave birth to a new depth in me I didn’t know existed. Under the surface of that suffering was an understanding that God’s designed us for more. More perseverance, more strength, more wisdom, more hope, more fight, more courage, and abundant love.

He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

We’re made in the image of God. So our love story on earth should look a bit like his.

Because he loves, we’ll do hard things. And because he’s with us, we’ll get through it.

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BIG NEWS!

1. WE’RE FOSTER PARENTS!

Ten little ( and adorable) reasons you haven’t heard much from me lately. We became foster parents to a precious baby girl seven weeks ago. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to love and support us as we learn to navigate this new adventure. We covet your prayers.

P.S. If you think these toes are cute…you would die if you saw the face that goes with them. Wish so badly I could post it on social media, but I’m not allowed. But trust me on this one…she’s off the charts adorable.

2. I’M SO EXCITED TO HAVE ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN THESE BEAUTIFUL MAGAZINES!

      
THE JOYFUL LIFE MAGAZINE

I’m teary-eyed thankful that The Joyful Life magazine has published a piece I wrote about friendship. The subject is so precious to me in this exhausting season of learning how to be a good foster mom, bio mom, wife, and friend. Women have come around me in life-giving ways over the past two months. Friends are sending me Bible verses and devotionals via text, bringing our family dinner, sending adorable baby clothes (from Baby Gap even!), dropping off diapers & formula on our doorstep…you guys- someone even gave me a BOB stroller. God is loving me fierce through these friendships. You know who you are. Xoxo

You can order a magazine or subscribe: Joyfullifemagazine.com
#joyfullifemagazine

HOME FRONT MAGAZINE

After coming home from visitation with our foster daughter’s mama, I opened the mail to find my first published article in Home Front Magazine. The title just tugged at my heart. Bio mamas, foster mamas, adoptive mamas, young mamas, geriatric mamas (apparently anyone over 35 camps out in this group)…we all need to give each other a break. We’re all hungry for grace. Let’s give it freely. It costs us nothing. It cost Jesus everything.

“The beauty of freely given grace is that is doesn’t put the recipient on trial before deciding if she is worthy. The cross has already determined that. Jesus gave his life to prove she is worthy. Who are we to question our Heavenly Father?”

You can order a magazine subscription online or order a digital copy at www.homefrontmag.com.

It’s Never Too Late

jenn-evelyn-ann-UYDoE_AyJQs-unsplash (1)He didn’t ask me to tuck him in last night.

I heard the click of his light and waited for the invitation. Silence. Why wasn’t my Eli calling for me?

Maybe he’s praying, or stretching, or reading with a book light? Was something wrong?!

I’ll tell you what’s wrong – my boy is growing up. And I’m not ready.

I crept out of bed and peeked into his room. He looked longer, his jaw a bit wider, with those man-boy feet (now bigger than mine) sticking out from his Star Wars blanket,

“Are you okay!? You didn’t call me to ‘Kentucky’ you in…”

He opened his eyes, cracking a smile. Had he lost all his baby teeth?

“Oh, my goodness! You’re freaking out, I just thought it was too late to call you.” He laughed. Apparently, my mama-meltdown was hilarious.

But something squeezed at my heart, “Never. It’s never too late. You can always call me!”

And just like that, I realized my longing to be understood was much like my Heavenly Father’s. How many times had he sung the same ancient truth over my life- It’s never too late, you can always call on me.

 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer you; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Psalm 145:18 NIV).

Being a mother reminds me I’m made in the image of God. And although the love I feel for my kiddos is a teeny glimpse of His love for us…there’s nothing on earth more consuming and eternal, besides God himself. It’s that big. At times when I’m desperate for my son to hear my words, God confirms -He feels the same way about me. His Spirit pleads, “Why aren’t you calling on me, daughter?”

He’s listening at the door of my heart while I sit in the dark, cold and unsure. Always present, but desiring me to utter His name, to invite Him to turn on the light. But I make excuses- I’ve waited too long, my need is too great, or the most dangerous…my need is too small.

What areas of your life do you hold back from God’s loving comfort? In what space do you prefer Him not to come? Where have you cuddled under the lie, “My longing is too insignificant for Him to care”? Push these things aside; they’re smothering your access to child-like faith. All we need to do is, “cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.”

P.S. I reserve the right to tuck my “babies” into bed as long as they live under my roof. I’m fairly certain it’s in the Constitution somewhere…or a Dr. Suess book. Either way.

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Summer Tradition: Teaching Our Kids to Pray for the World.

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I’d love to travel the globe with my kids.  I imagine we’d get lost down colorful alleys, pop into every restaurant oozing with the smell of butter and spice…but right now, we spend most our time at soccer practice, and in the school drop off lines. It’s our life stage and I adore it. But I long to instill a sense of passion for the world and all God’s created into my children.

Teaching our children to pray for the world is a powerful act of love.

God’s entrusted us with the upbringing of eternal souls. If we desire these precious souls to be world-changers for Jesus,  they’ll need a love for its people, because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). How do we do this?

This is one tradition that’s brought us a step closer to God’s heart; one small way to start loving on a global level. I pray it inspires you to have some meaningful fun this summer!

  1. Choose! Each week we take turns choosing a country on our world map. We have a map that you can scratch off the color of each country as you go, but I also love the idea of sticking a colorful pin in a cork map.
  2. Pray! After we’ve chosen a country we open up our book, “Operation World: The definitive prayer guide to every nation by Jason Mandryk. I can’t emphasize how I cherish this book. Here you’ll find all sorts of interesting nuggets about the country. My favorite – the most urgent prayer needs. This is what we focus on. Whatever those prayer needs are (poverty, persecution, government corruption, child exploitation, orphans, lack of natural resources, etc.), we include them in our family prayers over dinner. The book also includes a section of answered prayers for each country!
  3. Give! After our eyes have been opened to the immediate needs of others, the heart is always moved to action. If one of your kiddos shows particular interest in the need of another nation, help them research an organization that they can support through their allowance. My kiddos have even set up lemonade stands in the past to raise money for water wells in Africa.
  4. Cook! We chose recipes from our chosen culture and cook meals together. This can be a beautiful mess at times! Some of my major #kitchenfails include Russian borscht and Ethiopian injera (Yes Eli, I’m sure I followed the recipe. No, I don’t know why it doesn’t look like the picture!)
  5. Learn! We go to the library. I let the kids run amuck and grab whatever books they can find about the country. It’s so fun to share with each other what we’ve learned after we read our books.
  6. Have fun! We plan a fun movie night. If your kids are older, you can choose a documentary. The library has great choices for documentaries for littles too! You don’t have to get super serious about this. When my kids were babes we totally counted “Beauty and the Beast” as French culture (ya know, because of all the baguettes and bonjours in the opening scene). You’re making the effort, no one’s judging you!

Here’s the point: Taking time to learn and pray for others around the world, demonstrates to our kids that we should care; we should care about hearing people’s stories who are different than us. We should be intentional to understand the needs of the world outside America. Our children won’t learn to cultivate a love for all God’s people if we don’t model to them that it’s the heart of Jesus.

Here are some links if you’re interested…

Book:

“Operation World: The definitive prayer guide to every nation” by Jason Mandryk  https://www.amazon.com/Operation-World-Definitive-Prayer-Nation-ebook/dp/B00QKKJ96K/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?keywords=Operation+World%3A+The+definitive+prayer+guide+to+every+nation%E2%80%9D+by+Jason+Mandryk.&qid=1559581376&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr1

World Maps:

Scratch off: https://www.amazon.com/Scratch-Off-Map-World-Cartography/dp/B07B1R327L/ref=pd_sbs_229_6/144-4299772-1090345?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B07B1R327L&pd_rd_r=f6b4d734-8621-11e9-a9ce-814cf5dd9e62&pd_rd_w=VqAvS&pd_rd_wg=qBnYh&pf_rd_p=588939de-d3f8-42f1-a3d8-d556eae5797d&pf_rd_r=WHDSSWKZVHNMC7SXHB44&psc=1&refRID=WHDSSWKZVHNMC7SXHB44

Cork:https://www.amazon.com/Cork-Board-Map-World-Frameless/dp/B01N4J45XM/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=cork+world+map&qid=1559581661&s=office-products&sr=1-3

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When Hope Hurts

artem-kovalev-86365-unsplashOur bird mamma is back. Penelope- the one that’s decided our rotting patio cover is the perfect place to build her nest. I love this crazy, determined, cutie-pie bird.

The irony is not lost on me. I feel like I’m observing a bird version of myself. All the hopes of my heart to adopt over the past five years seem overshadowed by the decay that surrounds them. Five years of broken expectations. Four failed adoptions —  one international, three domestic — chipping away at the strength of my spirit.

But here I sit, day after day, choosing to knit my nest together with God’s promises, while everything around me threatens to cave in.

What is your my nesting egg? The desire of your heart that you believe God planted? Have you asked God to remove it if it’s not his will? I have. Over and over. Yet it remains. And even when the lies of the enemy are crudely constructed, attempting to cover up the promise that God’s plans are to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11a), His truth still is not obstructed. I can still feel it. Besides, “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24b–25 ESV).

I may have to grope clumsily in the darkness for a season, but it’s there. Because God is eternal and God is hope.

What is eternal cannot be extinguished.

Did you know the biblical word for hope, tiqvah, literally translates to cord, hope, and expectation? It’s used in the story of Rahab. She’s instructed to tie a scarlet cord (tiqvah, hope) in her window to remain unharmed. (Joshua 2:18). Hope protects us. It’s a holy signal to the enemy that he can’t touch us. It’s the scarlet cord we unabashedly display over our doorframe that cries out, “I belong to King Jesus!”

Grasping it like a rope, I’ve tried to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 ESV). I still struggle, asking God, Why are you making us wait so long for the desires of our heart?!

In all transparency, my hands have grown weary and calloused from clinging to the rope for so long.  It hurts. My hopeful waiting has been seasoned with suffering. But isn’t this part of the blessing? Callouses give us the ability to endure situations that would naturally tear our hearts wide open. It takes time and endurance for callouses to form.

In high school, I cursed the callouses that formed while trying to learn to play the guitar. However, the first time my fingertips were tough enough to press on the strings to play a worship song, I was flooded with understanding. The momentary discomfort I’d endured made it possible for me to sing a new song of praise. I don’t know all the reasons we’re asked to wait. However, I do know there is a perfectly holy reason for every situation. We are called to hope (Ephesians 4:4), and that means we are called to wait. Not just to wait but also to look.

In fact, the Hebrew root of the word hope is ka-va, meaning to wait, to look for. Faith-filled hope is active. When I find myself wrestling with discouragement, I’m really wrestling with my passivity.  Hope requires that we’re eager watchmen on the tower of our days, scanning the valley for signs of life. Just like Penelope, who is oblivious to the rot around her because her eyes are on the tiny, yet wildly adored, promise beneath her. She waits. She watches.

She constantly tends to the hope among the decay. Sweet Jesus, teach me to do this!

The idea of becoming foster parents was like realizing there was another egg in the nest we’d never noticed! It’s only through the sustaining grip of God’s love that we kept diligent watch over the ragged nest perched in our hearts. I praise God for the gift of hope. I thank Him for reminding me that hope is my protection, my courage, my confidence, my calling, and my strength! I raise my hands in praise, calloused as they are from clinging to hope, to the one that gives life to His promises.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

God’s word is always the best source of encouragement! Click here for a beautiful printout of verses celebrating hope in Jesus:God’s Word-Marked by Love-Hope

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Want to Build Something New in Your Life? You May Not Be Ready.

621704I was a cheerleader. Not the cool kind. When a routine called for the splits, I’d lower my skirt to hide the fact I was several inches away from nailing it.  I couldn’t do a toe-touch. I’d routinely jaunt across the quad with my skirt unknowingly tucked up under my backpack.  Yeah.

One of our important cheerleading jobs was painting the “run-thru” for the Friday night football game. This was serious stuff. We had to make life-altering decisions like: What should it say?! What colors should we use?! If we use too much paint, will it be too hard to tear?

A stampede of sweaty teenagers ran through this thing before they’d compete. It signaled the battle of Friday Night Lights had begun; they were ready to face their opponents and build a legacy.

God asks us to do the same thing at times. He’ll require we charge towards a stronghold before announcing, “You’re ready to step on the field.”

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…A time to tear down and time to build” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,3b).

Sometimes we must tear down before we can build up. The Hebrew word for ‘tear down’ in this verse is parats. In the tense used it means, to break or burst out (from womb or enclosure). So another way to understand this is, there’s a time to burst out from whatever you’re stuck inside of.

We’ve got to break-through in order to build.

I found the same Hebrew word used nine other times in the context of increasing blessing or territory.

“The little you had before I came has increased (parats, break or burst out) greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been” (Genesis 30:30a)

There’s a blessing when we press past our comfort zones into new territory.

What’s stopping us from making that phone call, having the hard conversation, going to the adoption seminar, applying for that job, taking the first step towards healing our marriage? Maybe we’re too busy staring at the daunting banner in front of us, forgetting we have a banner over us.  Moses declared, “The LORD is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15). We are to lift up His name and bravely march forward.

Perhaps we’re too prideful thinking we can run through the banner by ourselves? Listen, it took a herd of sweaty young men to burst through our epic signs. Call the counselor or friend. Get in a small support group or Bible study. If you have a stronghold or complacent spot in your life, gather some people around you and address it. Life is moving forward with or without your participation.

Maybe we’re unwilling to put effort into breaking through our fears, selfishness, insecurities or haunting grief.

It’s a shame really.

Because there’s an epic battle going on among us, and we weren’t made to stand on the sidelines. God can heal and equip, and he passionately desires to do so.

Let’s do the hard work of identifying the banners holding us back. Let’s be brave and learn to run full force at them, knowing on the other side is where we’re called to be living our lives. On the field, with our brothers and sisters, co-laboring with Christ to build things that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)

We’ve got one life on this earth. One. Get in the good fight for the kingdom. Ask God to show you which areas you need to have a breakthrough and CHARGE!!

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Inviting Grief to Dinner

tamara-bellis-125877-unsplash (1)The Southern California rain surprised all humanity this year, giving my kiddos a false sense of hope, “Mommy, do you think they’ll close the schools because it’s raining?!”

Um, no. That’s not a thing.

The brown hills by our house have exploded into yellow flowers. They press on their tippy-toes waving hello. Maybe California should cancel school, offering a day to admire the new life with neighbors. Because when it comes to new life, we really go out of our way to celebrate it don’t we? If we desire the company of new life, we’ll find she always brings a guest.

Life and death sit side by side. So often we shoo the experience of grieving to the “obligatory guest” table. No one wants him at the party…but sooner or later, he shows up. I photographed weddings for years, and I promise you, there’s always a wacky relative in attendance (psssst… it’s your uncle). One wedding reception, the exuberant uncle was on the dance floor, flat on his back, pretending to look up the bride’s dress. Yeah. Sometimes grief acts like that guy.  Meaning- he has no sense of social awareness. We find ourselves asking, who invited him anyways?! 

But it’s not his fault. When we shove the process of grieving far into the burrow of our lives; he’s forced to rear his head at the most inconvenient times. Can you relate? The checker at Vons asks if you have bags and you burst into tears because you left them in the car. If grief wants your attention, he’s ruthlessly successful. I’m finding that depriving him the attention he craves, only makes him fervently jump up and down.

I’ve decided it’s best to offer him a space to be heard.

Learning to set a place for grief at our table is a grueling and powerful act of faith. But it needs to be done. Joy is painfully birthed out of sorrow. When we pull the chair out from under him and ask him to leave, we’re telling him he’s not important to our story; that he has nothing of value to add to the conversation. When in reality, God often uses our grief to scoot our chair closer to joy.  God wants to speak to each of us through our sufferings.

Many believers experience guilt over admitting they’re sad. The idea of feeling guilty for grieving is not biblical! We’re taught we should rejoice in our sufferings, to always be happy because we have Jesus. There’s truth here. However, the rejoicing does not negate the suffering- it accompanies it.

God has filled me with inexplicable joy over our new journey to be foster parents. But honestly, it’s the grief of failed adoptions that brought us here. It’s impossible for me to separate my new joy from my concurrent grief. They’re powerfully intertwined. Have we forgotten that Jesus wept three times in scripture? Each time, coupled with an occurrence of great joy: before the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:35); right after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); and in the garden before his own death and resurrection leading to the salvation of mankind (Hebrews 5:7).

It is possible to sit next to joy and grief at the same time. It’s healthy to look grief the face and “talk it out” or “cry it out” or slap him in the face. Whatever you need to do to acknowledge they’re times he’s going to come to dinner and you can’t ignore him. We’ve got to deal. But we’re not alone. God’s table is big. It may mean we pull up more chairs for counselors or sisters in Christ to help us mediate the conversation. Or, maybe we need to excuse ourselves for a “prayer break,” or take a moment to wash our wounds in The Word.

As we become more intentional in setting a place for grief, we can’t lose sight that where God allows sorrow, he assigns great joy.  “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b)

God’s word beautifully reminds us that he’s with us in our suffering. Check out these Bible verses for inspiration: God’s Word-Marked by Love- Suffering

p.s. If the voice of your grief is consistently louder than the voice of your loving Father, you may be experiencing depression. They are not the same thing. Please feel free to message me and I would be honored to help you find a counselor.

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